It's been disclosed on Sunday that China's first cryopreservation case – fully operated in China without thoracotomy – was accomplished in May.
Zhan Wenlian, a 49-year-old lung cancer patient who was announced clinically dead on May 8, was transferred to Shandong-based Yinfeng Biological Group's medical laboratory to receive the practice.
Cryonics is a low-temperature preservation practice that allows contemporarily unsustainable patients to be "frozen" in time and condition, with the hope that resuscitation and restoration to one's full recovery may be achieved in the future.
The maintenance of cryopreservation is usually at a high cost.
Zhan was a volunteer worker from east China's Jinan, Shandong Province. As she confirmed to donate her body to medical science after death, Zhan's husband Gui Junpin and her family registered for the donation procedure during her chemotherapy.
Zhan was the first case with her full body cryopreserved in China. Another case was Chinese writer Du Hong, whose brain received cryonics practice in the US from Alcor Life Extension Foundation (Alcor) on May 30, 2015. Du's cryopreservation cost 120,000 US dollars (some 750,000 yuan).
Experts conducted anticoagulation, antioxidant and central nerve nutrition injections to Zhan's body, sustained her physiological function with circulation system and cardiopulmonary support equipment applied.
Dr. Aaron Drake, who participated in Du Hong's cryopreservation two years ago, was joined by doctors and experts from east China's Qilu Hospital of Shandong University on Zhan's cryopreservation procedure. Zhan's body temperature was first lowered to 18 degree Celsius gradually via minimal invasive cardiopulmonary bypass perfusion technology, and then was taken over by an automatic system. After dozens of hours' processing, Zhan was stabilized in a -190 degree Celsius condition and was able to be cryopreserved in liquid nitrogen on May 10.
According to a Yinfeng researcher, the cost of instrument and materials applied in the cryopreservation procedure was over 1 million yuan (some 150,000 US dollars). An additional 50,000 yuan (7,506 US dollars) annual fee for liquid nitrogen replenish two times a month would be charged. The cryopreservation conducting bill was paid by a foundation under Yinfeng.
The cryopreservation technology surely faces ethical controversy in China.
Yinfeng's director Jia Chunsheng confirmed that human body cryopreservation project is currently restrained in scientific research level and is unlikely to be commercialized.
"In terms of Mrs. Zhan, she devoted herself to the exploration of human body cryopreservation research, and her family was duly informed about the risk and the proportion of failure," Jia said, "via giving herself to scientific research, she harvested a seed of hope in future resuscitation."
American psychology professor James Hiram Bedford was the world's first person whose body was cryopreserved after death. His body now remains preserved at Alcor.